Nick Fogarty’s musical initially went by the snazzier title ‘The Golden Voice’ and was set to run at The Arts Theatre, with Darren Day in the lead. Then last year, the show’s co-producer was arrested on suspicion of fraud and the production fell through. ‘Best of Friends’ is the streamlined reboot of that ill-fated original and, although you’ve got to admire Fogarty’s gumption, it’s a right old mess.
The plot is thankfully simple: promising musician Mike (Aidan O’Neill) abandons his bandmate Jim (Fogarty himself) and girlfriend Natalie (Rosie Glossop) in a selfish quest for fame and fortune. Mike eventually sees the error of his ways and returns home – but will those he abandoned be able to forgive him?
It’s a decent plot but Fogarty’s script is woefully clunky. At one point, Mike’s long-lost son enthuses, ‘Now it’s time for me to be the person I was born to be!’ Clichés abound and the dialogue grinds through the gears, unsure where it is heading. Director Robert McWhir, normally such a steady hand, has done little to shore things up and a faint whiff of embarrassment clings to proceedings.
There is some decent acting (O’Neill is really too good for this show) and some solid vocal performances (Glossop out-sings the whole cast) but the two qualities rarely combine. Fogarty has written some catchy songs but the cheesy lyrics don’t do the music justice. He is also a terrible actor and, sadly, kills every scene he is in. In attempting to resuscitate his show, Fogarty has banged the final nail into its coffin.